Cloud computing is an evolutionary transition that forces IT professionals to take a new look at strategies for solving long-standing business needs, according to expert panelists speaking at UBM Tech's Cloud Connect conference, under way this week in Santa Clara, Calif.
"The cloud is a state of mind, if you don't mind being Zen about it," said Ashesh Badani, general manager of the cloud business unit at Red Hat. "But you don't want to rush into it without seriously considering the ramifications. You need to look at your company's needs and make the best choices to meet those needs."
In short, the technological changes associated with the cloud open up debate to a wide range of related topics that spawn extensive industry dialogue.
"The cloud is basically a reconsideration of how to get things done, and the central role of IT," said Ian Rae, CEO of CloudOps, a Montréal-based consultancy and cloud solution provider. "We can't be focused on continuing to do things the same old ways. There's a major dialogue around how technologies should be used, and how they should be procured."
Such changes can be difficult for businesses, and sometimes even more difficult for professionals who will be forced to not only guide their companies through changes but also navigate changes in their own careers that are brought about by industry shifts.
"It is important to be open to change, and to be ready for change, and to build out new solutions that meet evolving business needs," said Badani. "We are transforming. The [solutions] stack of the future will not look like the [solutions] stack of yesterday."
As the pace of business continues to accelerate, the pace of technology will probably do likewise, especially as the trend toward open source facilitates the ability of developers to build upon the work of developers who preceded them.
"Open-source will solve problems that proprietary solutions won't be able to solve because open source has far greater flexibility," said Mark Hinkle, senior director of open source at Citrix. "Software and solutions that have long release cycles will not be able to meet the agility requirements of the cloud. Proprietary software companies are innovative also, and we are starting to see them become more flexible at the platform level in order to provide rapid time to value. I think the combination of those two trends is very exciting."
"Open-source is important because it allows users more impact on how their apps are developed," Hinkle added.
NEXT: Overcoming Cloud ObstaclesThe panelists also stressed that cloud adoption is not something that needs to happen during a single instant in time.
"The cloud is not an either-or," said CloudOps' Rae. "You can start with lower-risk workloads and use cases. Many companies are finding success by starting small and using dedicated teams. The move to the cloud will not be done in a few years; it's more like decades."
A number of obstacles remain. One such obstacle involves the need to update academic curriculum in order to churn out the necessary volume of future technologists who can facilitate cloud adoption and operation.
"There is a lack of training and talent," observed Citrix's Hinkle. "There's not an abundance of knowledge out there. The technology will evolve, but the development practices and things necessary to take advantage of it are currently lacking. Security needs to improve also. The cloud is a very large attack base. People are trying to figure out the best ways to secure the cloud."
"There's some exciting security stuff evolving, but it's going to take a while to mature," Rae agreed.
PUBLISHED APRIL 4, 2013